Disability Burnout is Real

Left unchecked, disability burnout can completely take over your life.

Sheri Byrne-Haber, CPACC

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Disability burnout is a state of physical or emotional exhaustion caused by or made worse by a disability. Symptoms include:

  • feelings of exhaustion
  • inability or difficulty in focusing or prioritizing
  • exacerbation of one’s underlying health conditions
  • creation of new, co-morbid health conditions (clinical depression, for example, that accompanies a physical disability)

Disability burnout can involve a sense of reduced accomplishment and can also have a seriously detrimental effect an individual’s physical or mental health. It is an insidious condition that can happen slowly, over a long period of time. But the consequences can be life-altering, which is why it’s important to spot the signs of disability burnout early.

There are many ways disability burnout can occur. These are just a few, and is not intended to be a completely exhaustive list.

Overload Burnout

With overload burnout, an “overload” of something — hinders or blocks people from achieving their definition of success. People end up working harder and frantically to achieve their goals. Overload can come from several sources, including:

  • Work
  • Personal/family drama
  • Health problems

Trying to hide a disability

More than 70 % of disabilities are invisible. And those individuals have the option of trying to hide their status. Many choose to, especially in countries where there is a significant stigma and lack of legal protection for people with disabilities. But, hiding a disability comes with a price.

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Sheri Byrne-Haber, CPACC

LinkedIn Top Voice for Social Impact 2022. UX Collective Author of the Year 2020. Disability Inclusion SME. Sr Staff Accessibility Architect @ VMware.